Want to see more of Swedish Lapland? Make sure to read this magazine…

Let’s go a little bit off-topic for this post… I have got an e-mail from a blog reader with questions about other things (than the winter market) to experience in northern Sweden. I could give a whole lot of suggestions, but what I would really recommend is that you check out the new “Arctic Lifestyle Magazine” (click link to read the magazine online). The magazine, issued by Swedish Lapland, is a great starting point for finding beautiful places to go and exciting things to see.

2016-02-08-swedish-lapland-arctic-lifestyle-magazine-cover

After reading the magazine, I am sure that it can be really useful and interesting to everyone who is planning (or even just dreaming about) a trip to Jokkmokk and other municipalities in the northernmost part of Sweden. SwedishLapland.com is also a great site, especially through the sub-sections for the different destinations that Swedish Lapland inclosed. For example: http://www.swedishlapland.com/jokkmokk/.

If you have any specific questions regarding activities, accommodation, events, highlights or anything else, I recommend that you contact the tourist information office in the municipality you are planning to visit. For contact information to the tourist information in Jokkmokk, see DestinationJokkmokk.se. The tourist information can also send booklets and brochures to your postal address – and the tourist information office is always a good place to visit as soon as you arrive at your destination.

Update: There is also a great article in the December 2015 edition (#83) of Scan Magazine. The theme is “Winter wonderland”, and it includes articles from Jokkmokk (pages 44-45) as well as from neighbouring municipalities.

Knitted mittens – A surprisingly interesting exhibition at Ájtte museum

At Ájtte, the official mountain and Sami museum of Sweden, one would normally need a full day to see and experience everything that the museum offers. And during the winter market when the museum has a lot of visitors, it is basically impossible to experience everything in a single day. When I worked in the tourist information during the summer of 2015, I asked visitors how much time they had spent at the museum – and the two most common answers were “half a day” and “a full day”. So, I didn’t even try to make a full walkthrough of the museum.

Instead, I focused on the temporary exhibitions. The one exhibition that people appeared to be most interested in was all about knitted mittens, made according to old patterns that follow local traditions with a long history. For me, growing up with a pair of “Porjus mittens” and a pair of “Lovikka mittens” (which have both been made from the patterns that date back to the early 20th century), it was interesting to learn more about the history of the pattern. I also got a chance to speak with Erika Nordvall Falck, the collector and enthusiast behind the exhibition, about details regarding the Porjus glove. I didn’t expect a set of knitted mittens to be a fascinating experience, but it sure was.

The mitten exhibition will be open at the Ájtte museum until early March, 2016.

Photos: The winter market in black & white

One visitor I talked to on Friday told me that she was surprised by the incredible colors of northern Sweden. She had come here, thinking that the snow is always white and the dark nights makes everything pitch black. She did not expect things like the “blue hour”, which happens early afternoons in the winter when the blue sky gives everything a blue hue, or the beautiful orange sunrises just to give two examples. Once again, the theme for the 2016 winter market was “Midwinter at the Arctic Circle”, and amazing colors come along with the season and the location.

With that said, I want to share a couple of black and white photos that leave out the winter colors. Inspired by large-format photographer Vahid Cullsberg (whose photos can be seen in this post), I got curious about working without colors. Here are some of the photos:

2016-02-04 - Ájtte Museum (black & white, wide angle lens)

2016-02-04 - Destination Jokkmokk and the tourist information (black & white)

2016-02-04 - Östra Torggatan, heading towards Åsgatan and the Åsgård hostel (black & white)

2016-02-04 - Vendor and visitors (black & white)

Video: Walking through the crowd on a winter market Saturday

Filmed on Storgatan, the main street of Jokkmokk, shortly after lunchtime on Saturday, February 6th, 2016. I have a lot of video material, as well as a good set of photos that has not been sorted yet. Not to forget: stories and experiences that I want to write down and share with everyone who is interested in Jokkokk and the winter market.

A million untold stories – Let’s share a few of them!

For example: Australian ambassador Gerald, who won the reindeer race yesterday, has given an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen where he reveals that he didn’t know that he had been signed up as a parciticipant in the race. The same surprise was given to a New York Times journalist who competed in the very same day (although she fell off the sled and was disqualified).

“What I like the most about the winter market? I’d say meeting all kinds of amazing people…”

– Kim, 62 years, from Umeå

Another example: I got a phone call from a woman who was (since many years) involved in a project I had just finished. She lives in southern Sweden and has not had very much to do with Jokkmokk in the last couple of decades – but after talking to each other for a while she realized that I was the son of one of her classmates from her first year in School in the mid-1960’s. And of course the story behind throat singer and life wanderer Björn Uglem, who has shared his photos from the Saturday reindeer race in a previous post. And all the randomg meetings with people who I would never sit down and have long discussions with if it wasn’t for the winter market where random meetings with people from all over the world often become long-lived memories. One such meeting was with a young (and very drunk) man, who knocked on my office door on Saturday night, asking for help with charging his mobile phone battery. In most cases, I would not have opened the office door if I was working late, but during the winter market everyone do their best to help people in need – and this random meeting ended up creating a lot of fun.

2016-02-05 - Storgatan (the main street) on the second day of the Jokkmokk winter market of 2016

It is impossible to write down even half of all the things I would want to write about, but I will make sure to tell you atleast some of the stories. Not because the stories are interesting or entertaining, but because they are relevant to the topic; The winter market is a very special situation where you will meet a lot of different people – and the welcoming and helpful atmosphere (which I would say is, and has always been, one of the core values of the winter market) will leave many of the visitors – as well as locals – with great memories. Once again, and it can’t be said in any better way, it is one of the things that the market is all about.

Expect a number of follow-up posts during the next couple of days. If you have a winter market story of your own (or a photo, video or any other kind of material) that you would like to share, please get in touch. I’d be happy to post it here!

Videos: Kitok live at Café Gasskas, February 6th 2016

2016-02-06 - Kitok, performing live at Café Gasskas on the last day of the Jokkmokk winter market 2016

On the last day of the Jokkmokk winter market of 2016, Kitok returned to Jokkmokk for a one-night performance at Café Gasskas. As expected, the café was filled to the limit, and the atmosphere was electric. Yet another great hometown gig by Kitok, and a perfect end to a very nice winter market week. The gig started half an hour later than planned,

Watch two of the songs, “Halleluja” and latest single “Norrsken i baren”, in the videos below:

Video: Reindeer race (filmed using a handheld GoPro camera)

I managed to film one of my two races today, using a GoPro Hero 4 Silver camera that I held in my hand (as opposed to having it mounted on my head, as I did last year). The result was a shaky video where snow constantly hits the camera. It is a different kind of video from the ones filmed last year, but it is more faithful to the actual experience that a participant gets. Watch it here, and if you like it, feel free to share the link to this post (or to the video) with friends!

Last minute shopping, just before closing time

The street market part of the winter market is over for this time. I did some last-minute shopping (chocolate, salmon, reindeer chips and a suovas roll), and went down to the Ájtte museum to meet some friends. Photos from the museum will be posted next, but there is no time to edit the photos now; I’m just about to go to Hotel Akerlund for a winter market dinner together with my wife Johanna.

This is what the closing hour looked like:

Photo album: The reindeer race

The last reindeer race for this year had a great mix of participants, including visitors from New York (a journalist for the New York Times), Germany and Australia, as well as locals. Four qualifying races, two semifinals and one final – and then we had a winner. I won my qualification race against Konstantin Tönnies from Germany and got to race against Gerald Bruce Thompson (the Australian ambassador to Sweden) in the semifinal. Mr. Thompson won the semifinal easily. He then won over Robin Holmbom in the final race, and was awarded with a reindeer horn trophy. When asked for a quick comment on his reindeer racing experience, Mr. Thompson concluded that he was happy about his participation.

Updated: I got a set of photos taken during the event today, by Björn Uglem. Thanks, Björn!

Photos from Saturday, February 6th 2016

Streets filled with people, snow falling from the sky, people speaking in more languages than I was able to count and a reindeer race that turned out well. In short, the first part of the last day of the 2016 winter market in Jokkmokk has been great. Here is a big photo album from the day so far:

Coming next: Photos from the reindeer race!

First report of the last winter market day of 2016

Today is Saturday, February 6th 2016, and it is the last day of the 2016 Jokkmokk winter market. Atleast when it comes to the street market; many of the exhibitions will still be open after the market closes. The weather is good, although with cloudy skies and snow. The temperature is -12 degrees Celsius.

After having left the camera (and its memory card) at the office yesterday, I have lots of material to publish today. I’ll do it whenever I get a break in the busy schedule, but first of all I’m going to visit the market area and the snow stage where the Sami National Day is celebrated today. At 14:00, I will participate in the reindeer race – competing in the first round against a visitor from Germany.

Here are some photos from earlier:

What would the market be…

…without a sudden change of plans caused by some unexpected thing happening? Well… To re-use a phrase from a previous post: That’s what the market is all about. Usually, it is a good thing. But today, it causes the blog to be a bit boring. Here is what happened:

I visited the Sami Education Center as planned, earlier in the afternoon. I saw the great exhibition made by the students, as well as lots of other people showcasing their work. As always, the amount of talent, creativity and tradition is amazing. And there were lots of visitors, even more than I had expected. I’m happy I went there today, because it will probably be even more people in the building tomorrow when the Sami National Day (February 6th) is celebrated. Afterwards, I made yet another full walk around the market area, and got some great photos. But as I got back to my office to publish the photos, I got a phone call from my father who was nearby – and I went out for a car ride around Jokkmokk with him. And when he had dropped me off at home, I realized that the camera (from which I had not yet copied the photos) was still in the office. So, this evening I’m left without the ability to post the photo albums I had in mind. But trust me, I’ll publish them tomorrow – along with highlights from the events tomorrow.

For tonight, I can once again recommend the #jokkmokk page, which features a lot of great photos from Instagram.

Friday: Another sunny day!

The second day of the winter market opened up to sunshine and a slightly colder temperature than yesterday. The thermometer shows -20 degrees Celsius, an improvement from the -25 degrees that we had early in the morning. There is not a single cloud in the sky, and once again the streets are full of people. Once again, my phone turned itself off because of the temperature, but I managed to get two photos of Storgatan (the main street).

2016-02-05 - Friday, 11:30

2016-02-05 - Storgatan by 11:30

In just a moment, the reindeer rajd will pass through the market area, drawing large crowds as it moves along the streets. It will make it a bit of a challenge to pass the spot where it is – but it is of course a part of what the market is all about. It is always nice to see the excitement the rajd causes, especially among visitors who have never been close to (or even seen) reindeers before. If my schedule holds up, I’ll be at the snow stage by this time tomorrow to take photos of this years rajd.

Evening photos from the market area

Photos of the street market after it had been closed for the day, and from the restaurant hut where Sara Ajnnak was signing copies of her new album “Ráhtjat“, just after having finished her last performance for this winter market.

Daylight recedes, but the day is still young…

Back after a second walk around the market area. Still great weather, although it is dark by now. And still a good amount of visitors. I did not bring the camera this time, as I had its battery in the charger, but I’ll make sure to get out again after the street market has closed for the day – as it marks the beginning of the evening and nighttime activities. There are events taking place all over Jokkmokk in the evening (just as during daytime), every day until Saturday.

I had originally planned to make an electronic music performance at the open-air historic museum tonight at 22:30, similar to what I did last year (note: Swedish post), but I’ve had to cancel the event because of technical problems. Instead, I will hopefully be able to do something music-related on Saturday. More about this later…

Saturday, by the way, will be a really exciting day. I have kept my schedule rather open for Friday in order to just do whatever comes to mind, but Saturday is planned hour by hour with things I’m going to do. Probably starting at 10:00 in the morning with the last event starting at 22:30, so it will be a long, long day. Among the things that will happen:

– Adventurer, life wanderer, musician and throat singer Björn Uglem visits the Jokkmokk winter market again! Last time was in 2014 when he hosted an event at Ájtte Museum, participated in the reindeer race and walked around the market area wearing a traditional Alaskan inuit dress. I’m hoping that he can join me for a music performance at the open-air historic museum on Saturday, but again, more about that will be posted later as the details are still not sorted out.

– At 14:00, I will participate in the reindeer race. See the video from last year to get an idea of what the race feels like for a participant!

– At 19:00, I will be heading to Hotel Akerlund for their third and last winter market dinner. Directly after the dinner, I will walk across the street from the hotel to Café Gasskas…

– At 22:30, Kitok, known for hits like “Paradise Jokkmokk”, “Halleluja” and “Norrsken i baren”, performs live at Café Gasskas. The trio made three performances during the 2015 winter market, with the third and last being at Café Gasskas (which was one of the true hightlights for me last year). This time, the Gasskas gig is the only one, and I am not going to miss it!

But that’s Saturday, and right now it feels far away. Now I’m heading out to visit the restaurant huts, meet some friends and find out what people think about the winter market so far. Another photo album will be posted later tonight, stay tuned…

Photos from Thursday, February 4th 2016

Photos from the first day of the Jokkmokk winter market 2016. Sunshine, -11 degrees Celsius, simply beautiful.

…and the market area is open!

The 411th winter market is now taking place in central Jokkmokk. I am just about to go for a first walk through the area, and the weather looks great. It is a bit cloudy, but the sun appears at times – and the temperature is around 12 degrees Celsius. Just perfect conditions for the first market day. I will return with photos from the market later, and I’m also hoping to get to the reindeer race at 14:00 to get some photos and videos. Other plans for the day is to visit the Sami Education Center to see the exhibition of handicraft made by students, one thing I never miss during the winter market.

To see posts and updates from social media about the winter market, check out our #jokkmokk page. It shows public posts to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #Jokkmokk – and there are already photos from the winter market in the feed.

Photos: The winter market opening ceremony

The 2016 winter market has officially been declared open! The opening ceremony on the snow stage offered speeches, joiks, rap music and honorary awards, and the park was full of people. Here are some photos from the event:

Don’t miss the webcam!

The opening ceremony of the 2016 winter market in Jokkmokk starts in less than an hour. I will of course be there to take photos and record some video. I was planning to broadcast the opening ceremony through Bambuser or through Facebook, but the iPhone that I use for broadcasts doesn’t work when the temperature gets too low. With a current temperature of -22 degrees Celsius, I will need to focus on still photography and shorter video clips. I will post a photo album from the opening ceremony tonight.

Until then, check out the webcam that shows a live feed of a part the market area. As you can see, there are already vendors in place, and people moving around the area. The opening ceremony will take place in the same area (about 50 meters to the right of the passage seen in the webcam), and there will most likely be a lot of people passing the camera during the opening ceremony. Look for people waving to the camera, it happens quite often. If the camera feed doesn’t work (the high traffic may cause some bandwidth problems), try again in a short while.

Webcam from the Jokkmokk winter market

Now, I’m ready to get my warmest jacket on. It is time to get the winter market started!

Photos from Wednesday, February 3rd 2016

The day of the opening ceremony, and the day before the main winter market opens, is a really beautiful day. The temperature has fallen to below -20 degrees Celsius, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining as both visitors and vendors are arriving. The market area has been closed to regular traffic, and there is a general sense of anticipation in the air. If the beautiful weather persists, there are plenty of reasons to expect the market to be a great event.